Category Archives: Daily Express

Doomed! We’re all doomed! – Or are we?

If you were to glance at the front pages of some of the newspapers this morning, you’d be forgiven for feeling at best a slight frisson of fear, at worst convinced the country was doomed to an epidemic worse than Swine ‘Flu, more deadly than MRSA! 

E.coli is not about to strike us all down!

Here we’re treated to another series of vivid, raucous headlines full of hyperbole and little or no substance.

The Express, perhaps is the least frightening, but only because its readers have surely become immune to the sensational headlines, behind which lies not a lot of truth?

The Daily Mail, too, is only slightly less guilty than the Express of composing misleading headlines above often much more innocuous pieces.

“Mutant E.coli is in Britain: Seven victims in UK have new contagious strain that’s killed 18”

But the Telegraph? Surely the Telegraph is more accurate and serious in its reporting?


As seven cases of the food poisoning bacteria were diagnosed in Britain, the agency said that the mutant strain was so virulent that sufferers risked spreading the infection to friends and relations through close contact.” 

These three examples are some of the worst displays of sensationalism and scaremongering found on a very quick trawl through the available headlines today.

Nowhere in those frightening headlines do those papers mention that the people with the E. coli infection in Britain were infected on very recent visits to Germany, not here. We are misled; encouraged to believe that the seven people in Britain with the disease contracted it here. 


This deliberate inaccuracy is dangerous. As well as encouraging irrational fear in the population, it will possibly badly affect the sales of fresh vegetables grown or imported by already beleaguered food producers and increase the number of time-consuming calls on doctors and health workers for advice.


This dishonesty may sell papers, but what does it do for the readers? Don’t readers and the general public deserve the truth?

Advertisements

They counted them in, they counted fewer out.

Small selection of Daily Express front-page headlines

The Daily Express has long campaigned to convince the nation that the whole fabric of Society is in danger from an influx of immigrants bent on securing jobs, housing and benefits from under the noses of indigenous ‘Brits’.

Articles which accompany these startling headlines are often long on scare – mongering hyperbole and short on accuracy.

All three of the main political parties agree that there is indeed a problem which needs to be rectified. The Daily Express, however, is embarked on another course completely. Its tactics are designed to engender hatred, mistrust and resentment. 

27.05.11

An article in today’s Daily Express, here, the statistics, taken from the latest ONS study, (ONS podcast), appear at first glance to be accurate if somewhat alarming! Using language which backs up the article writer’s understandable alarm, the spokesman from Migration Watch, the oft quoted Sir Andrew Green opines thus:


“This sharp rise in immigration comes as a shock. These figures show just what an enormous task the coalition Government has inherited as a result of Labour’s mass immigration policy.

Firm measures are now absolutely essential. The impact on British-born workers is a particular concern that has been brushed under the carpet for too long.” 
Words to strike at the very heart of those struggling to find jobs, a roof over their heads or enough in the benefit pot to go round. Except, –  and this is the crux of the matter – nothing in the article is quite as the writer and Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch would have us believe!
As can be seen from this Full Fact investigation, several supposedly reliable newspapers have omitted to mention, deliberately or otherwise, that the ONS net immigration figures include emigration statistics. Emigration has fallen by more than 25% since 2008 and this tends to skew the net migration total. 
To its credit, the Daily Express does mention this in the last two paragraphs of the piece, but it is disingenuously used as a stick to beat the Government with and with luck, bring about legislation to curb the ‘flood’ of low skilled migrant workers. 


‘Matt Cavanagh, of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said:

“When they set the target in opposition, the Conservatives clearly hadn’t planned for emigration continuing to fall.
Today’s figures show that emigration of British nationals is down by more than 25 per cent since 2008. This means the Government will have to take even more drastic measures to meet their target.”

Perhaps, if successful, the Government could take much of the credit for forcing the Daily Express to come up with a different theme for its front page headlines?

What’s the truth behind the Express’ ESA ‘outrage’?

April 28th 2011

Just as a bit of light relief from our worries about rampaging migrants who’re about to snatch all of our spare jobs or our over-generous welfare benefits, today the Express offers us a chance to refocus our hatred onto that well-known thorn-in-the-side of every upright citizen – the Benefit Scrounger.  

No, don’t groan! They’ve got evidence – really, they have: 

Press Release from the Department for Work and Pensions


Macer Hall, the Express’ Political Editor writes:

“BLITZ ON BENEFITS: 887,000 FIDDLERS EXPOSED

FRESH outrage over Britain’s sicknote culture erupted last night after new Whitehall figures showed three-quarters of Incapacity Benefit claimants are not entitled to the money.
Nearly half a million people receiving the cash were exposed as being fit for work after undergoing medical tests in a Government crackdown on welfare scroungers.

And a further 428,000 voluntarily dropped their claims before completing the assessments – making a total of around 887 000.”

‘Fresh outrage……erupted..’ ? Not on my TV screen, nor in the sources I’ve searched, since seeing this headline, in a vain effort to detect any ‘outrage’ at all other than in the Express.  
I did manage to find a slight hint at outrage in a small piece in the Sun which speaks of ‘shock’ figures:

“900,000 caught in ‘fit to work’ check

ALMOST 900,000 Brits trying to claim sickness benefit are fit to work, shock figures reveal.

Three out of four were caught out by assessments in a Government crackdown on scroungers.
Ministers said it proved they were right to shake up the welfare system.” 

Most articles written after receiving the Press release from the DWP were more balanced and thoughtful.

This morning, disappointingly, the BBC appeared to carry on its website a piece about the DWP’s statistics which backed them up and assumed the presumptions to be valid: Benefit Applicants – ‘75% Fit to Work or Drop Claims’ . No attempt here to check the facts or find another point of view.

Later, I found this on the BBC site and heaved a sigh of relief! : Mark Easton’s UK. 

Mark Easton

In his Blog for today, The Truth About Sicknote Britain, Mark Easton dismantles systematically the ‘case’ (if that’s not too kind a word to use!) put by the Express:

“According to one screaming tabloid headline today: “Blitz on benefits: 887,000 fiddlers exposed”. Echoing stories in many of this morning’s papers, the Daily Express says that three-quarters of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants are “workshy spongers feigning serious disability”. Shocking, if true.

But it isn’t true.”

 and:
“The source for all this is the latest batch of data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on applications for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit introduced two-and-a-half years ago by the Labour government. Today’s figures relate to the period between October 2008 and August 2010 – a time, for the most part of course, when Labour was in power.
The key point, though, it that these are new applicants – people applying to see if they might be eligible for additional financial support.”
Mr. Easton goes on to explain the true facts behind the ‘shock figures’; true facts which plainly show that those dubbed ‘benefit scrounger’s are in fact those with genuine disabilities who have been encouraged by the DWP to apply for benefit!
So, not the hate figures we are encouraged to despise by the Express and many of the other right-wing media outlets?
The Express article, Mr. Macer’s exhortation to denigrate all new ESA applicants or those attempting to hang on to existing benefit, ends thus:
 
“Last week, David Cameron acknowledged the growing anger about the number of claimants receiving Incapacity Benefit because of obesity or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Official figures showed that over 81,000 people are on incapacity benefits because they are too fat to work or have drug or drink problems.

More than 20,000 with one of those three problems are among some 900,000 who have been “on the sick” for more than 10 years.”
Just on the off chance his readers weren’t sufficiently incensed by the disabled….!


Migrants flooding in…well, they might be, anyway…or not…

25th March 2011
“BRITAIN faces a fresh wave of migrants from next Sunday, when rules on benefits are relaxed.

As many as 100,000 people from eastern Europe are expected to head for the UK after May 1, when they will be able to claim up to £250 a week in handouts.”
We were due another immigration warning by the Express, that snarling keeper of the nation’s gates and borders and inveterate, dogged EU sceptic, and here it is!

You might ask what is so unwarranted about a newspaper delivering a timely warning about the possibility of our benighted welfare system being potentially put under further strain by an influx of foreign migrants from the EU countries? Well, not much if that were all this piece sought to accomplish.

But it is not merely a welcome heads-up. The headline alone suggests that the ‘flood’ of migrants, salivating at the thought of a generous weekly hand-out of £250, is already underway, threatening to swamp our own impoverished citizens. We see a photo purporting to be:
  

“Buses arriving at Victoria coach station in London disgorge Polish immigrants seeking work.” 
Alison Little, the Express’ Deputy Political Editor, quotes the Chairman of MigrationWatch UK, Sir Andrew Green:
“This needs to be watched very carefully. Nobody knows what impact it will have.” 
(a fine example of ‘stating the bloomin’ obvious’?)

He is particularly concerned about what would happen once similar “transitional controls” on immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania are lifted in two years’ time, with fears that Roma people would race to take advantage.

Immigrants from eight countries – including Poland and Hungary, which joined the European Union in 2004 – will get automatic rights to Jobseeker’s Allowance, housing and council tax benefit. Rules that prohibit eastern bloc migrants from accepting the handouts unless they have worked here continuously for a year must be lifted to comply with EU requirements.
These worries from MigrationWatch, dubbed by Ms Little: ‘a monitoring body’ are the latest in a long list of issues taken up by this group over a considerable length of time. A quick glance at the organisation’s website Home page gives a flavour of the standpoint held by its members.

However, the tenets of MigrationWatch are not universally respected or admired and I include one newspaper article here as an example of many I found when researching the group.The piece mentions and gives examples of many inaccuracies in MigrationWatch’s statistics :

“Perhaps it’s to be expected that MigrationWatch might play a bit fast and loose with the evidence — it is a campaign group, after all. But this seems to be becoming a habit: yesterday it published another report, using an even more flawed methodology, to make very strong claims about immigration and youth unemployment. This was duly picked up by the right-wing media — the Express today repeats this study’s claims under the headline “Migrants rob young Britons of jobs“, and the Telegraph goes for “13 per cent rise in Neets ‘linked to immigration’ “.


Then Ms Little enlists support for her argument from the Conservative MP Mr. Philip Davies, 

 well known for his fervent and oft voiced wish to see Great Britain leave the EU altogether :

“Conservative MP Philip Davies said it was impossible to say how many more people would come to Britain, but experience suggested numbers would rise.”
(again, stating the obvious!)
 

He added: “Our welfare bill is too expensive supporting people in this country. We can’t afford to subsidise people from the rest of the EU as well.

“It’s another kick in the teeth for taxpayers and another example of why we would be better off out of the EU.

“Experience suggests that we will get the lion’s share of these people, partly because of the generosity of our welfare system. Whatever the reason, it is going to be EU-initiated picking of our pockets.”

Who wouldn’t be alarmed at the idea of hundreds of thousands of potential thieves and scroungers scattering around the country uncounted and unaccountable?

There is a valid argument to be had about immigration, especially in these straitened times and discussion is often better informed when enhanced by accurate statistics and good  evidence as in this article by Dr Eoin Clarke in his ‘Green Benches’ Blog.

Using a sensationalist headline as does Ms Little’s article today, serves no purpose other than to reignite public fear and indignation . It isn’t yet happening, it may not happen at all. 

But if the public can be frightened into believing that it will and that the ensuing disaster was caused by our belonging to the EU, so much the better. After all, as Ms Little candidly admits:


“News of the immigration wave will fuel the Daily Express’s crusade for Britain to quit the EU.”

In other words, pick at a scab often enough and the wound never heals. The danger is, as we watch the antics of the EDL in towns and cities around the country, the wound may become infected….

Incitement to Hatred?

Once gain we note the blatant misreporting and manipulation of statistics in very similar articles to be found in yesterday’s Daily Mail and Daily Express.

In a previous blogpost, I showed how some of the tabloids use exaggeration and distortion of facts in an attempt to influence public opinion.

Here, below the headline:

75% ON SICK ARE SKIVING

is The Daily Express piece. Its opening paragraph states in bold print:

THE welfare mess left by Labour was exposed last night after figures suggested three-quarters of sickness benefit claimants are fit to work.’


The article, quoting from a report carried out by the Department of Work and Pensions, states that out of all of those claiming incapacity benefit of whatever type, 39% were deemed fit for work, another 36% :

abandoned their claims as soon as they were told to undergo new work capability assessments introduced to weed out scroungers.

The total figure of 75 per cent was released by the Department for Work and Pensions yesterday following a review of almost half the 2.1 million people on incapacity benefit.’

So from 1.05 million people already tested, we are led to believe 75% are ‘scroungers’. By my calculations, the reality is that following an assessment, only 39% of a total of the 1.05m people could be considered as claiming a benefit they were not entitled to.

Even this assertion would be challenged by many of those who have undergone one of the tests and found them unfairly conducted and dubious in their validity.

But the article in the Daily Express is mild in its condemnation of disability benefit claimants compared to what is to be found in the Mail Online!

400,000 ‘were trying it on’ to get sickness benefits: 94% of incapacity claimants CAN work

This time, we are given a figure of 94% of benefit ‘scroungers’!

Both articles are full of contemptuous language and thoroughly judgemental. Both articles misuse data in an effort to confuse and hoodwink the reader.

To what end? Well, scandals and shocking facts sell newspapers! Words which denigrate the subjects of such articles may incite hatred, or at the very least, dislike. Could it also be that by whipping up a storm of indignant feeling against a certain group in society, support for potentially unpopular policies being put forward by the government of the day might be increased?

As Nick Angel wrote of the Daily Mail in an article in the Guardian on 20th August 2007 :

‘A month spent reading the nation’s leading mid-market newspaper took me into a terrifying, depressing world, filled with suspicion.’

You can find the rest of that piece here : For me, it says it all!

Someone else who speaks with more honesty than could be found in either of the two articles I’ve highlighted today can be seen and heard in this clip posted by ‘peekaypurr Shame on you Prime Minister. I know you know better.” , @BendyGirl on Twitter.

Update: Factcheck have just posted a link to their site, where they’ve been working on the veracity of the data given by Mail.

Rosie Robertson